High school basketball coaches charged with murder in death of basketball player who collapsed at practice

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A grand jury has charged two coaches with murder and child cruelty in connection to the death of a Georgia high school basketball player. Imani Bell, 16, suffered a heat stroke while practicing outdoors in nearly 100-degree weather in 2019, according to her family’s attorney.

According to the Associated Press, the Georgia grand jury indicted coaches Larosa Walker-Asekere and Dwight Palmer last month in connection to Bell’s death. The family’s attorney Justin Miller told the AP that Tuesday’s indictment “sends a signal that the DA is taking this seriously.”

Walker-Asekere was the school’s girls basketball head coach and Palmer was one of the assistants at Elite Scholars Academy. Both were allegedly at the scene when Bell collapsed.

Bell was a junior at Elite Scholars Academy in Jonesboro, Ga. and was participating in mandatory conditioning drills on Aug. 13, 2019 when she collapsed while running up the steps of the school’s football stadium. She died shortly thereafter as a result of heat-related cardiac arrest and kidney failure, according to a lawsuit that was filed in February by her family. 

At the time of Bell’s death, there was a heat advisory in Clayton County, where the school is located. The lawsuit alleges that Elite Scholars Academy violated a Georgia High School Association rule that bans outdoor practices in such heat-stricken conditions.

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